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New Years Update: Constructing Constructionist Communities

2018-01-23

Our work has been on two fronts, specifying the Fathom Playground (last mentioned way back here and improving the chatroom to support it.

The Playground

The Fathom Playground (previously mentioned as a Digital Learners Residency ) is a full-time remote learning program around decentralized systems. It is built around self-directed learning and user constructed pedagogical environments.

The idea is to have a set of people motivated to learn about decentralized systems and a minimal set of rules to allow them to coordinate with each other for that learning.

We’re fleshing out what those rules are, and other details around the whole program in this MR. The goal for these pages is to introduce the program and concepts so that they can be iterated on and discussed.

Constructionism

An important pedagogical perspective to us is that of Construcitonism. The Playground is not about passing on models (partially because we haven’t really figured them out yet) but creating an environment in which individuals can collaborate to create them.

More chatrooms!

We’re working on making the chatroom application less of a standalone object and more a full-featured environment. This means allowing for multiple rooms in a single window, moving this more into traditional chat environment territory.

We’re also working on implementing better information management in the UI, adding a sidebar for room details as well as smart-contracts and room management. Figuring out the information hierarchies and layout of it all is the current challenge.

Better user management

We are also working on getting a better login flow in place to reduce the friction of interacting in multiple rooms.

This work is currently going on in the develop branch.

Parsing

While our slash commands are fun they’re not exactly effective. We have a monster of a parsing function that just splits a given command into words, (based on spaces) and then has a switch statement to determine what to do. You can take a look at it here and you can look at our messy command functions here

Just JS

In thinking about how to better tackle this problem we realized we had just re-implemented interfaces for javascript we had in our source objects. So, why not just have the user execute javascript themselves?

We have can have isomorphism between the interaction environment and development environment, allowing users to contribute back to the codebase easily as well as engage in DApp development.

You can take a look at this work on this MR

Better Backend

We’re also continuing to clean up the backend using socket.io. The main advantage is better connection handling and maintenance as well as neater room management.

We are also working to clean up our message schemas to be more maintainable and less messy.

The Book Club

Our team has been a little spread out over the last little bit and so our reading has stalled. Some of us have been digging into Mindstorms by Seymour Papert, so that will likely be our next book. And man is it a fantastic one.